Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Favorite Books: Ender's Game

It's been a long while (over TWO YEARS) since I've written about a series of books that I love. Just recently, I was reminded of a book series that I still cherish to this day when I found out that the film based on the first book in the series had just released a trailer. The name of the series? The Ender Saga. I don't actually remember the first time I read "Ender's Game", but I do remember why it appealed to me. The story of the book is a simple one: In the far future, humanity has had two wars with an alien race known as "Buggers" and we barely survived. We know a third war is coming, and the Battle School was created to prepare a new class of soldiers and military leaders. The story follows Ender as he is drafted into Battle School and follows his career through both Battle School and the more advanced Command School. We see the emotional and physical consequences of Ender's going through the qualification process, the effect his drafting has on his family, and the role the adults surrounding Ender play in his development. And we get all this, almost the ENTIRE STORY,  through the mind of Ender himself.

Growing up, I had a curious dual status with the people around me. I was ostracized for being overweight and depressed, yet sought after because I was one of the smartest kids around AND I had a knack for breaking down complex ideas into simpler concepts that were easier to digest. Along with my own personal demons, that duality made for an interesting school career and in the story of Andrew "Ender" Wiggin, I found a parallel to my own story (minus all the sci-fi, of course). I saw how someone else of above average intelligence deals with the ridicule/respect of his peers, and how to mitigate the unintended consequences of my own actions. For me, Ender's Game was a revelation.

The funny part of all this is that the author, Orson Scott Card, wanted to write the second novel in the Ender Saga, Speaker For The Dead, first, but he couldn't because of all the background exposition that had to go into the story. He wrote out some of it in a short story (also called "Ender's Game"), but then went back and expanded the story to include more background on Ender and some of the other characters, and to include more of what was going with Ender's siblings, Valentine and Peter.

Now, normally, I would have listed the entire saga as a favorite series, but I haven't actually FINISHED the series. I read the four books I knew about, commonly known as the Ender Quartet, but there are another 10 or so books in the series that I have yet to read. The rest of the books mostly deal with side characters in the Ender quartet, but there are some continuations of Ender's story as well as some prequel stuff to the quartet. Until, I read them all I can't in good conscience say the saga is a favorite series. However, Ender's Game is a treasured favorite in my library.

I would recommend it to anyone who is interested in good science fiction storytelling that focuses on characters and psychology and not tech and explosions. Also, here is the trailer for the movie based on the book.

If you find it at all interesting, please check out the books. I know you'll love it.

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